Reflecting On Christmas
I have written several blog posts recently that I have not published. I’ve been in a reflective mood about what I want and how I want to spend my time, and I am confused. Many of my recent posts have been more personal in nature, and although I want to be myself (of course), I just don’t know how much of me I want to share on the internet. But, I have stumbled upon a blog topic that ties into the reflective mood and the holiday season, so here it is:
How I Can Have an Even Better Christmas Next Year…
The Christmas Season
The start of the Christmas season was so fun, although a bit crazy. As I prepared for our Thanksgiving East Coast trip, I pulled out the Christmas decorations. Because I like to come back from a vacation to a clean home, I cleaned the house as I packed for the trip. The boys and I decorated the house with the Christmas decor in the places I had cleaned. So, we were ready somewhat ready for Christmas before Thanksgiving.
And the boys were into it. My oldest, at four, was super into it. I think he understands the passage of time a bit better this year, and that helped him get excited. Plus, he remembers things from last Christmas, so he could appreciate some of the traditions. They loved the grown-up Christmas plates with winter scenes of New York City. They loved changing the date on the home-made advent calendar (made by my mom back in the 70s). They loved dancing to the Hallmark holiday plush singing toys. And they loved listening to Frank Sinatra’s “Jingle Bells” on repeat.
I had time to shop for gifts. We had time to make presents for loved ones, or so it seemed. Because then…bam! I had a surgery, it was my youngest’s birthday weekend, I was recovering from the surgery, school shut down, and then the Christmas guests had arrived! It was going so well, and then things got nuts. Sure, I still enjoyed the holiday, but things went a little flat in all of the stress.
Here are some tips I plan to use next year to have an even better Christmas.
1. Have the kids make gifts starting in October.
I love, love, love the idea of my boys making and gifting Christmas presents.
We tried this year, but we failed. Sometime during the first week of December we melted pony beads on the outdoor grill in muffin pans to make small “stained-glass” window hangings as gifts. It was dark, and I over-grilled the beads. And I was so turned off by the plastic fumes, I decided to not do this project again. And because I launched into a small surgery and other mayhem, we never figured out anything gift.
If I had started this in October, I could have come up with a back up project. And, it’s a little easier to spend money in October than December. Sure, Halloween has its own costs, but it is way less than a birthday and Christmas.
So next October you may find my boys and I making a no-sew Christmas wreath for grandparents and smaller ornament-sized ones for other loved ones. (Mom, don’t click on the link.)
2. Make real wreaths with my girlfriends.
This year I went to a baby shower the first weekend of November and saw many of my friends there. And after that it was nothing for weeks and weeks in this season of joy. In the past we’ve done holiday cookie parties or holiday dinners with spouses. Next year, I am thinking a wreath-making event would be perfect!
I saw the grown-up wreath-making thing on a lot of social media outlets, and I felt a little jealous. How fun! And to do with a bunch of my girlfriends, chocolate, and wine? Even more fun! So next year I am going to ask a local florist if she could host a wreath-making party for my girlfriends and I, or at least grab a couple of my besties and attend a workshop.
I’d prefer to do this in mid-November, but I don’t know how long wreaths last! I’ll have to add this to my 2018 for October to put something together!
3. Buy more gifts throughout the year.
This is simple enough. On every rare occasion I find myself in a cute store, buy a Christmas gift for someone! This would definitely help with December money woes, as well as holiday stress.
4. Do more baking.
I had a small surgery on my leg, so for weeks cooking seemed like such a chore. The boys and I finally made cookies for Grammy and Grandpa the day they arrived for their Christmas visit. I would like to start the baking a bit sooner so that we can have this as a family tradition. (Don’t worry–my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law did their annual Christmas cookie baking day and shared way too many with us!)
5. Clean out old toys in November.
I cleaned out toys in the bedroom and toys in the play area of the den in mid-December, but I would have done a way better job if I had started in November. I could have taken longer and been more thorough. Next year, I’d like to start in November so that we have room for new toys, but also less toys overall.
I would also like to clean out the closets that I use to hide the gifts. This year gifts ended up hidden throughout the entire home, and it took me a long while to find a couple of boxes that I had quickly hid from the boys weeks earlier. If I had cleaned out and made room in my favorite spot, life would have been easier.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
6. Play outside more.
I’ve noticed that we haven’t been playing outside quite as much this month, and the weather hasn’t been all the awful except for one cold snap. Next year I’d like to do a few outdoor family outings in December, like outdoor ice skating at a nearby park (followed by hot chocolate, of course) or skiing at Eldora (followed by hot chocolate of course) or even just a hike up Rabbit Mountain or some of these spots.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
7. Get a Christmas tree permit.
I mean to do it every year, but then I don’t. Next year, so long as we are in Colorado, I want to get a permit so that we can cut down our own Christmas tree in Golden Canyon State Park or up by Red Feather Lakes. I did it once before, and it was so much fun. Plus, Clark Griswald, of course.
8. Put the chocolate advent calendar even more out of reach.
I put the chocolate advent calendars in cabinets after the kids get their daily chocolate. But, one day, my oldest got a hold of his calendar when I wasn’t around, and ate every single candy. I couldn’t believe it! And then I had to listen to my oldest whine every day until Christmas while his younger brother ate one piece of candy. So next year I will need to keep better tabs of the advent calendars!
9. Put the outdoor Christmas lights on a timer.
Some days I forgot to turn on our outdoor Christmas lights, and going out in the cold, dark of the night to turn them off was a pain. If we put the lights on a timer that is okay for the outdoors next year, it would be so much easier!
This Year’s Successes
Even though I lost some of the holiday spark (most likely due to the surgery and post-surgery recovery zapping my energy) this season, there are plenty of things that I did enjoy. Just some of them are listed below.
- My husband has off work the week of Christmas, so lots of family time.
- Christmas tunes always playing from the Amazon Echo Dot.
- Reading Christmas books at bed-time to the boys. I am glad we had them out so early this year.
- The beef stew I made for my mom and step-dad the day they arrived felt festive.
- A girlfriend came for dinner one night, and we had a sleep-over. I loved it and so did my boys.
- Waiting until the 16th to get a Christmas tree. This is much later than normal, but it looks amazing today.
- Hanging up the tree ornaments and thinking about the past.
- My husband strung light along the gutters of the house without much prodding. I put up ones around the tree and it wasn’t a big deal.